In reality it was nothing close to a free-market - they simply shifted the command and control decisions to a different place and the results weren't pretty.
I have the same concerns with the health market - conservatives are going to be likely to insist that some semblance of so-called free market programs will be instituted, but without the full weight of prices and incentives bearing weight it is likely just to make matters worse.
The downside is that anti-market types will simply point and say "See, markets don't work" which simply isn't true. This is, of course, not true because the free-market wasn't there in the first place, but its hard to get that point across.
Now due to this post I have a good metaphor to describe what is going on.
This is a bit like taking antibiotics: if one only takes half of what the doctor prescribed, one may feel well in the short run, but when the decease comes back, it is stronger and the antibiotics have lost their effectTags: